States meet in Geneva for Universalization Workshop of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)

أبريل 18th, 2024

From 11 to 12 April 2024, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organized a regional workshop on achieving the universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The workshop was organized with the financial support of the European Union and sought to promote the CCW and its Protocols and to contribute to the understanding of the key provisions of these instruments.

Group picture of the participants to the Workshop on Achieving Universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The workshop brought together 11 representatives from States not yet parties to the CCW as well as from High Contracting Parties, namely from the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Jordan, and the Syrian Arab Republic. The workshop was also observed by the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament from the Republic of Korea, Uzbekistan, India, the Republic of Iraq and Bangladesh. The Director of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), Mr. Deepayan Basu Ray, attended the workshop and took part in the exchanges.

The two-day workshop commenced with opening remarks from Ms. Tania Banuelos Mejia, Head of the Implementation Support Unit of the CCW and Ms. Natalia Krolak F from the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. They both highlighted the importance of the CCW in regulating conventional weapons, particularly in regions facing conflict and encouraged participants to benefit from the informal and interactive environment of the workshop.

Opening remarks by Ms. Tania Banuelos Mejia, Head of the CCW Implementation Support Unit

During the two days, the participants discussed a wide range of topics including the key dispositions of the CCW and its Protocols, the meetings organized in the framework of the CCW (including the GGE on LAWS), human-centered disarmament, and New Agenda for Peace. The participants also heard a presentation from a guest speaker from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Ms. Maya Brehm, on the CCW in the Context of International Humanitarian Law, who also led a group exercise.

On behalf of officeholders, Mr. Nikola  Yakov from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva and Ms. Candy Moyo from the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations Office in Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland also shared the important roles of the Chair of the Meeting of High Contracting Parties and the President-designate of the Amended Protocol II. They both stressed the central part that officeholders play during the annual meetings to reach a consensus on the final reports, and in general in leading the work of the bodies in reviewing and sharing information on the implementation of the instruments. The speakers also underlined the crucial support provided by the CCW Implementation Support Unit.

Furthermore, the workshop addressed the role of the CCW in further developing and codifying International Humanitarian Law and contributing towards disarmament, with a particular focus on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). The session highlighted the specific risks linked to these weapon systems, and how they can be addressed through the CCW. Furthermore, it underlined the call of the Secretary-General to have a legally binding instrument to prohibit and regulate LAWS by 2026.

Representatives of Georgia, Jordan, and Kazakhstan shared their national experiences as High Contracting Parties to the CCW, highlighting their commitment to the CCW and detailing their efforts in implementing the relevant Protocols. Georgia’s dedication to CCW and demining protocols, Jordan’s focus on protecting civilians during conflicts and cooperation with ICRC, and Kazakhstan’s role in arms control seminars and inspections highlight their proactive stances.

Participants engaged in interactive exchanges throughout the two days of the workshop, and shared information about their national system regarding disarmament.

Representatives from Non-High Contracting Parties including the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Bhutan, Nepal, and the Syrian Arab Republic also shared the overview of their national framework on disarmament and arms control.

The representative from the Kingdom of Bhutan highlighted the kingdom’s involvement in UN peacekeeping efforts and its dedication to promoting peace and security globally. Similarly, the representative of Nepal emphasized the country’s dedication to mitigating the impacts of conventional weapons, especially those of  small arms and light weapons.

The representative of the Syrian Arab Republic mentioned their participation in disarmament efforts at the regional and international levels. The representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan emphasized the country’s commitment to non-proliferation goals, nuclear security, and transparency measures while highlighting challenges with landmines and the humanitarian consequences. The representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran outlined the country’s adherence to various treaties and national legislation regarding disarmament issues .

The participants to the workshop also discussed the challenges faced by smaller States in prioritizing disarmament in their national frameworks, emphasizing the need for awareness, outreach, and support from entities like UNODA, and its regional centers, such as UNRCPD.

Additionally, information on joining the CCW was provided by UNODA, emphasizing the benefits, expectations, and the process of becoming an official High Contracting Party.

The workshop was an informative and insightful event addressing the significant role played by the CCW and its Protocols in promoting international humanitarian law and disarmament. The workshop also addressed emerging challenges in this field and provided an excellent platform for constructive discussions and collaborative efforts to advance the universalization of the CCW.

In the framework of this project, UNODA will continue engaging States that are not yet parties to the CCW to encourage them to join the CCW and its Protocols.